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Optical payload management preoccupies this year's NFOEC.

Time was when our industry would take pride in sending gigabits of data over single-mode fiber. We synchronize it, form it into rings, and self-protect it. Now we transmit multiple wavelengths along it. Should we really be surprised to find it's getting difficult to manage?

Attendees at the 15th Annual National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference (NFOEC) at Chicago's Lakeside Center were bombarded with seminars, panels, and exhibits stressing the importance of management and the drive toward total management network (TMN).

Trouble is, said the presenters, it's difficult to get anyone to agree on a common interface standard. Faced with a growing demand from subscribers for new value-added services, most service providers take the easy way out and buy proprietary systems.

A service-provider panel Stated the issues clearly on Wednesday morning: TMN architectural indecision is rampant not because engineers don't believe in it but because there are just too many options, explained SBC Communications' Connie Hunt. "We must minimize co-incident changes to legacy systems except when proven cost effective or technology mandated," she added.

This sentiment was echoed in the afternoon by panelists from several regional Bells, all deploying DWDM. "Operations, management, administration, and provisioning systems must be developed to provide improved functionality," stated Ameritech's Mark Curtis. "DWDM doesn't prove in, in as many cases as we participated in," noted Jason Ackerman of US WEST. "It will be much better when it is operated and managed at the optical level."

What this all boils down to, of course, is customer needs. Richard Notebaert, Ameritech's chairman and CEO, put it this way during his keynote address: "At the end of the day, customers won't care whether their applications arrive via fiber optics, IP, or good old copper wire. The questions that will matter are about things like: Does it work? Is it fast and reliable? Is it intuitive to use? Does it make their lives easier? Can they afford it?"

About 200 companies exhibited at NFOEC, and there were many new products and demonstrations. Here is a selection:

(1) Pirelli, based in Lexington, S.C., demonstrated DWDM systems can interface directly to IP routers and ATM switches.

(2) Nortel Networks showed its OPTera packet solution that replaces old-world routers that cause more than half of all Internet failures.

(3) Peachtree, Ga.-based Furukawa Electric displayed its Fitel S175 direct core monitoring fusion splicer that weighs less and costs less than any other on the market.

(4) Digital Lightwave, Clearwater, Fla., showed how its portable ASA 312 Network Information Computer can test SONET, ATM, and T-carrier networks.

(5) Austin, Texas-based 3M Telecom Division announced a new 950 nm Fiber Bragg grating. This is part of a line of gratings designed to stabilize erbium amplifier pump laser diodes.

Stewart is president, Network Interface Corp., a consulting and lecturing company near Chicago, Ill.
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Title Annotation:Technology Information; Annual National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference
Comment:Optical payload management preoccupies this year's NFOEC.(Annual National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference)(Technology Information)
Author:Steward, Alan
Publication:Communications News
Geographic Code:1U3IL
Date:Dec 1, 1999
Previous Article:short takes.
Next Article:Photonic switch and switch matrix market.

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